Saturday, 1 May 2010

The First Day of May - Labour and Leisure day

In France it is the day when the Lily-of-the-Valley (Muguet) flower is given as a gift of the actual flower or symbolically as a card or photograph. In Pagan times Flora the Roman Goddess of flowers was celebrated. The Celts revered this day. Later the Maypole and the crowning of the Queen of the May was a traditional event for this first day of Summer. In Catholicism May is Mary's month. In France in1561 King Charles IX gave flowers for a good luck charm to the ladies of the court and thereafter every year the tradition continued. Since 1941 and the German occupation of France, the Vichy Government hoped to rally their workers and so a day of unemployment was offered. Six years later the French Liberation declared the day a paid workday. There are many countries in Europe that celebrate this important day but not always on the first of May. It also re-iterates the demonstrations of 1890 when workers wanted 8 hours sleep, 8 hours work, and 8 hours leisure in their day.

For our leisure we went to La Roche Posay "Les Medievales"... we were not "les gueux" on this occasion but enjoyed the other side of the fence as members of the public. Knowing the format we dashed ahead of the Italianate flag throwers and ensured we had a spot for The Assault and for The Archery Tournament. Our French friend Fran├žois, the 13th century weaver, explained carefully about the weft and warp of his metier (craft).

1 comment:

*Ulrike* said...

Sooo cool! I wish we had something like that here, but then it would not feel the same as over there!